Managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can feel like a balancing act a lot of the time. On one hand, you want to do everything you can to reduce the symptoms and prevent the progression of your disease. However, on the other hand, you don’t want to use any treatments that could cause serious side-effects. It’s not always easy to find a balance between these two things and create a routine that works for you.
This has never been more true than with home remedies. Simply put, a home remedy is an easy and accessible treatment option for an ailment that you can do at home. Home remedies are not prescribed by a doctor and they typically have more anecdotal evidence to prove their efficacy than hard scientific fact. What’s more, home remedies aren’t always focused on treating a specific disease like COPD. Instead, they could be focused on improving your health in general which, in turn, could help you treat your COPD.
Rather than taking a risk with home remedies you may find on social media or elsewhere on the internet, we’re going to outline some COPD home remedies that are proven to be safe and effective. Just remember that home remedies should never be put before the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor including but not limited to supplemental oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, and an improved diet. As always, if you have any questions about what you read here, don’t hesitate to leave a comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Dietary supplements are commonly misunderstood in today’s world. Many people are under the impression that dietary supplements can replace a healthy diet and others are convinced that dietary supplements do nothing at all. However, the truth is somewhere between these two points of view. Supplements can potentially enhance your diet, but there are also a few things you need to be aware of in order to use them safely.
Dietary supplements are not considered “medication” by any means. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies them as a “food product.” The good news is that this means they are widely available and you won’t need a prescription in order to buy them. But the bad news is that supplements are not regulated the same way as medication. It also means you’ll have to do your due diligence and research supplements, as well as the company selling them before you make any commitments.
Vitamin D Supplements
It’s a well-known fact that many people develop vitamin D deficiency after contracting COPD. According to the National Emphysema Foundation, over half of all COPD patients develop vitamin D deficiency because they consume fewer foods that are high in vitamin D and they are less likely to spend time outside in the sunlight which is a major source of vitamin D for many healthy people.
The main problem associated with vitamin D deficiency is osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become weak and brittle. Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of calcium which gives the bones their structure and strength. Vitamin D also plays an important role in the growth and function of muscles which is also very important for COPD patients.
Ginseng has a long history of use in Chinese medicine. It’s an herb that’s believed to improve pulmonary function as well as respiratory endurance. It’s known for both its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects as well as being able to regulate blood sugar levels. While the benefits of ginseng look promising, it’s important to discuss with your doctor before using it because it’s known to interfere with certain COPD medications.
This is an antioxidant supplement that’s shown potential when it comes to thinning mucus, reducing phlegm, and clearing the airways. Like ginseng, NAC is a widely available supplement that can be bought without a prescription. However, it is also known to interfere with certain medications, so it’s important to consult with your doctor before using it to treat your COPD.
The vast majority of people who have COPD have smoked in the past and about 38 percent of current COPD patients are also smokers. Many people believe that, since they’ve already contracted COPD, there is no reason to put in the effort to quit smoking. But this could not be farther from the truth. The main reason to quit smoking is to slow the progression of COPD, but there are a whole host of other reasons as well.
Smoking increases your risk of conditions like heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, and more. What’s more, current evidence suggests that smoking is associated with increased severity of disease and a higher likelihood of death in COVID-19 patients. Smokers are known for having impaired immune systems which could also put you at a higher risk of contracting respiratory infections.
While there are many prescription medications you can use to quit smoking such as Chantix or Zyban, there are also many natural methods for quitting smoking. One thing you should know about smoking and other types of addictions is that you need it in order to feel normal. If you’re deprived of it for too long, you will likely start to experience feelings of withdrawal. When this happens, you’ll experience intense cravings, along with headaches and a change of mood. This is when you’re most likely to fall back into your smoking habits.
In order to avoid these intense feelings, you may have to slowly wean yourself off cigarettes or use a common technique like nicotine replacement therapy. Unfortunately, many smokers feel like they’re up against impossible odds when it comes to smoking cessation. Maybe you’ve seen others around you fail at losing cigarettes or you just don’t feel like you have it in you. But the truth is, it takes many attempts to quit smoking. This study suggests that it could take anywhere between 8 and 14 attempts to drop a smoking habit for good.
Cleaning Your Home
For most people, cleaning the house is a chore. But for someone with COPD, it can be a lifesaver. There are two reasons you should clean your home on a daily basis: first and foremost, it helps to eliminate airborne allergens and bacteria from your home, and secondly, cleaning is a therapeutic activity that helps you feel accomplished and whole. When your living environment becomes messy or dirty, you’re far more likely to experience issues like anxiety and depression.
Before you start cleaning, you need to make sure you’re using safe cleaning products that don’t contain dangerous chemicals that could exacerbate your respiratory problems. Unfortunately, the cleaning product industry is rife with hazardous chemicals that, if inhaled, can lead to coughing, wheezing, chest pain, shortness of breath, and even permanent lung damage. In COPD patients, inhaled chemicals can even cause severe exacerbations.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are some of the most common hazardous materials you should keep an eye out for. Some common personal and home care items that include VOCs are:
- Disinfectants and cleaners
- Air fresheners
- Deodorant and cosmetics
- And fuel
Other hazardous things in cleaning products include bleach, ammonia, ethylene glycol, monobutyl acetate, sodium hypochlorite, and trisodium phosphate. If at all possible, you should entirely avoid using cleaning products with these chemicals in them. However, if you absolutely have to use them, you should ensure that the room is well-ventilated, you should always wear a mask, and avoid getting the cleaning product on your hands or near your eyes or mouth. Refer to the Cleveland Clinic for more information on cleaning safely if you have COPD.
Breathing exercises may seem silly to someone who has never tried them. However, the more you look into them, the more you begin to realize the bad breathing habits people develop over the course of their life. As a society, we spend more time sitting and remaining sedentary than ever before. This has caused many people to develop a shallow, ineffective breathing method that can be dangerous for someone with COPD or other respiratory conditions.
Breathing exercises are very easy to practice in the comfort of your own home and they are the perfect thing to incorporate into your daily routine. Not only will breathing exercises help you correct bad breathing habits, but they will also teach you how to reduce and manage anxiety more effectively.
One of the worst habits for COPD patients to develop is chest breathing. This type of breathing is focused on using the chest muscles in order to expand the lungs which can be exhausting with inflamed and obstructed lungs. Chest breathing should be replaced with diaphragmatic deep breathing which is focused on using the diaphragm, the thin sheet of muscle above the stomach to expand the lungs.
Cleaning regularly and practicing breathing techniques are both great ways to reduce anxiety, but they aren’t the only ones. The tricky thing about anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders is that they can be triggered by just about anything. Some people may experience anxiety about their health whereas other people may experience anxiety for reasons that are purely biological.
The first step to preventing anxiety is to simply follow your treatment plan as closely as possible. Your treatment plan is designed with your long-term well-being in mind and that includes your mental health. Things like exercise and a healthy diet will help with full-body wellness and they’re always the first things you should commit to if you want to feel happier and more motivated. If you’ve tried all of this and you’re still experiencing anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the best alternative.
COPD is commonly linked with weight loss. Due to the increased energy that it takes to breathe with COPD, a changing immune system, and other factors like a loss of appetite, many COPD patients find themselves losing an unhealthy amount of weight. Oftentimes, this weight can be muscle mass rather than fat which is the most dangerous part about it. Your body needs muscle strength in order to breathe and get around more efficiently, so it’s very important to keep a healthy weight with COPD.
Weight management is something that can be done at home. Your doctor has likely set you up with a new diet plan that includes high protein, fiber, and healthy fats. You should follow this plan as closely as possible. What’s more, you should eat regularly throughout the day instead of eating one or two big meals each day. This will prevent you from feeling exhausted or bloated after eating and keep your energy levels stable throughout the day.
The second thing you should be aware of is your exercise routine. Pulmonary rehabilitation isn’t just designed to keep your lungs strong, it’s also important for helping you manage your weight by keeping fat off and muscle on. Like your diet, the most critical thing with pulmonary rehab is consistency so try to incorporate fitness into your daily routine.
Healthy Sleep Habits
Your sleep/wake cycle doesn’t just affect your alertness throughout the day, it also affects your energy levels and your ability to take on the challenges that COPD presents. For example, someone with a healthy sleep schedule will have a better mental attitude and a better willingness to make lifestyle changes that will positively impact their respiratory health. A poor sleep schedule can also contribute to anxiety which can further exacerbate COPD.
The key to a healthy sleep schedule is consistency. Adults should be getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night and your sleep schedule shouldn’t vary night-to-night. Try to get to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Doctors also recommend avoiding naps throughout the day, getting plenty of exercise, and avoiding using electronics before you go to bed.
If you’re concerned that you’re losing sleep at night due to low oxygen levels, you may want to speak with your doctor about using supplemental oxygen therapy while you sleep. You are likely already on some form of oxygen therapy, but using an oxygen concentrator while you sleep will ensure that your blood oxygen levels remain stable throughout the night. Portable oxygen concentrators like the Caire FreeStyle Comfort or the Inogen One G5 are great options because they’re small, quiet, and can be plugged into any wall outlet meaning they’ll never turn off on you in the middle of the night.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and need to use a CPAP or BiPAP machine while you sleep, you will need to use a continuous flow portable oxygen concentrator like the Respironics SimplyGo. This concentrator is designed to put out a constant stream of oxygen, so if your breathing is interrupted for any reason while you sleep, you can rest assured that you’ll still be receiving medical-grade oxygen.
When it comes to treating COPD, you need a comprehensive approach that takes into consideration all facets of your life from your sleep schedule to your mental well-being. Home remedies are a great way to make you more conscious about how your lifestyle is affecting your health and what steps you can take to reverse these issues.
At the same time, however, you need to be careful about what home remedies you use. Some people will make unfounded claims about dietary supplements or other remedies which can actually make your symptoms worse. This is why you should always consult your doctor before using a new product or making drastic changes to your lifestyle.
Above all, you should be focusing on the treatment plan that you’ve created with your doctor. Doing so will help you alleviate breathlessness, chest pain, and coughing associated with COPD and you can expect to see a better prognosis for your disease.